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United States Postal Service aging delivery vehicles causing fire concerns

18 Jan 2020, 09:00 ... e-concerns

Investigators in Allegan County said they're waiting for lab reports before determining if the driver of a pickup who slammed into a postal carrier truck will face charges.

The postal carrier in the vehicle was killed after police said her truck overturned in a ditch and caught fire. Since the crash, research by the National Association of Letter Carriers has revealed the existence of growing fire concerns over the Long Life Vehicles. Many have been in service for more than 25 years, according to union memos and letters.

Memos and instruction materials sent by the U.S. Postal Service to field offices dating to 2014 show the agency has been aware of fire safety concerns with older vehicles for many years. The concerns revolve around reports of the vehicles catching fire even without being in a crash.

The National Association of Letter Carriers published an article in its January 2019 issue of its monthly magazine, The Postal Record, regarding the postal vehicles and fire risks associated with them. In the article, the association states the fleet is aging, and the fire risk increasing.

USPS memos point to faulty fuel and brake lines as possible causes to several fires reported over the years.

U.S. Postal Service spokesperson Kim Frum issued a statement Friday:

"The safety of our employees is a matter of great importance to the Postal Service. Vehicles that are purchased for use by our employees are required to meet all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). The requirement to meet all FMVSS requirements applies not only to the purchase of commercially built vehicles but also purpose built vehicles. In addition to requiring that all vehicles purchased for our employees meet all FMVSS, the Postal Service has implemented mandated maintenance schedules and fine-tune repair and maintenance procedures for the existing Postal Service vehicle fleet, including Long Life Vehicles (LLV), with the goal of making sure vehicles used by postal employees are safe to operate before they are put into use on a daily basis."

The letter carriers website and memos also emphasize the importance of vehicle maintenance.

Frum explained the USPS is currently in the process of picking a new delivery vehicle to replace the aging fleet. The new postal carrier vehicles are called the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle.

"On Dec. 27, 2019, the Postal Service announced on the federal contract opportunities ( website that it had issued the NGDV production Request for Proposals (RFP). Offerors' proposals will be reviewed, and the Postal Service will make a choice based on an evaluation of best value," Frum said in an emailed statement.

Frum said the postal service expects to award a contract or contracts for production sometime in summer 2020.

In the meantime, letter carriers will continue to use several different delivery vehicles, including the Long Life Vehicles.

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